The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects residents from unreasonable search and seizure of themselves and their property by law enforcement. The protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment are generally understood to be the strongest when the home of a suspect is involved. The New York Court of Appeals recently released a ruling concerning a Fourth Amendment claim that social guests in the home of a friend are entitled to some level of fourth amendment protection by their presence in the home. Although the Court ultimately rejected the defendant’s arguments, one judge on the panel submitted a passionate dissent to the majority decision, suggesting that the law in this area is not entirely settled at this time.
The defendant in the recently decided case was charged and convicted of a drug crime after police allegedly witnessed him sell drugs to an undercover officer and followed him into an apartment building. The police entered an apartment in the building that they believed the defendant had entered but had no warrant to enter that home. After noticing evidence of commercial drug activity in the home, police obtained a warrant to search the home and found the evidence which was later used to convict the defendant at trial.
The defendant challenged the admissibility of the evidence that was collected by police, challenging their entry into the home of his friend without a warrant. The defendant maintained that he had been eating dinner in the apartment “all night” and the police misidentified him. Under the Fourth Amendment, the defendant argued, people are entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy when they are socially visiting the home of a friend for dinner. The trial court rejected the defendant’s contentions without holding a hearing, ruling that he had no right to challenge the search of another person’s home.
In a summary memorandum decision, the New York Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision, finding that people do not have the right to even challenge the admission of evidence against them that is collected by the warrantless search of the home of another person. One judge on the Court disagreed passionately with the majority decision and outlined the precedent that suggests people do have a Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures when they are social visitors to the home of another person. Although the majority opinion stands and will hold precedential value in future cases, the compelling arguments made in the dissent suggest that the law in this area is not fully settled
Do you Have Questions About the Legality of a Search?
If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offense in New York based on a warrantless search, you may have a case to fight the charges against you. The qualified New York criminal defense attorneys with Tillem and Associates are experienced in challenging illegal searches, and with a deep understanding of the constitution protects you are entitled to, you may have a chance to get your charges dismissed. Tilem and Associates, P.C. represents clients charged with all crimes, including New York drug offenses. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact us at 877-377-8666 or contact us through our online form today.